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The football program at Dr. Henry E. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is building a dynasty after consecutive 4A state championship titles and an undefeated record since 2014.
But for head coach DaLawn Parrish, the primary agenda is to lead young men by using football as a tool for growth academically as well.
“It feels great to help young men get to the next level, that’s why I got into coaching high school football,” Parrish said. “Growing up, some of my friends didn’t have the opportunity to play in college because they weren’t pushed hard enough.”
AJ Lytton, Demetri Morsell and Malik Bellamy are top prospects at Wise, having received scholarships and interest from Division I programs.
Lytton, a Florida State University commit, cites the inspiration of former Wise athletes to maintain and pass on the trend of greatness to the future of the program.
“We’re used to winning and learning at the same time,” Lytton said.
According to Wise Athletics’ Twitter account, the program has generated over $5 million in scholarships between eligible recipients.
But for Morsell and Bellamy, the primary focus is academic achievement.
“My grades were bad when I started at Wise, but my teammates and Coach Parrish pushed me to become a better student,” Bellamy said.
Morsell added that the coach “inspired me to raise my performance in class to have an easier recruiting process. Having success academically helped me become the best version of myself, on and off the field.”
In Prince George’s County and surrounding areas, the numerous private and magnet schools give parents options for where to send their children. But even with a number of choices available, Parrish has earned the reputation and trust of parents to coach their children for generations.
“Prince George’s County is an influential area in Maryland,” he said. “There’s a mixture of public and private schools, so it’s common for siblings to go to different schools. I’ve been fortunate in my 11 years at Wise to have coached 16 sets of brothers, so that’s a great accomplishment for me.”